Friday, April 06, 2007


I think you brood over rejections early in your career. After a while, you figure they happen. They may still sting, but you know you aren't going to figure out what was in the editor's mind.

Thirty years ago, Robert Silverberg rejected my story "The Warlord of Saturn's Moons." It was published by New Worlds and reprinted in Pamela Sargent's Women of Wonder series and the Norton Book of Science Fiction, edited by Brian Attebery and Ursula K. LeGuin.

Somewhere along the line, Silverberg told a friend of mine he would have bought the story, if he had ever seen it. I think I still have Silverberg's rejection note. He said he liked the story, but it wasn't science fiction. He then rejected the next story I sent him, saying it was science fiction, but he didn't like it. Damon Knight published that one in his Orbit series.

Gardner Dozois rejected my story "The Garden," when I sent it to Asimov's. George Zebrowski bought it for an anthology, and Gardner put it in his Best of the Year collection.

David Gerrold once sent me -- decades ago -- a form rejection which was intended to be comic. It said, if I remember correctly, if his mother were dying and the only way he could save her was to accept this story, he wouldn't.

I returned the rejection to him, explaining that it was not acceptable; and he sent me an apology. He must have been very young then, and it was meant to be a joke. But I really did not think it was acceptable.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Eleanor. I do brood from time to time, though much less so now than a few years ago. Part of that change for me is a recognition that this is all part of it, and an awareness the editors have to be somewhat jaded, given all the crap they have to slog through.

Hell, I cringe when someone asks me to read something they've written, and I've got no name yet. GvG, Dozois, Silverberg, Flint? They must see great heaping piles of crap, everyday. Hard to blame them for having a very narrow margin of error.

Still, I'll brood a bit less once that first publication happens, I think. Until then, a nebulous nervousness--pointless, perhaps, but existent nonetheless--pervades my receipt of each rejection letter.

tate said...

I still brood over rejections sometimes. Still, at least you can say, "Hey, bigger people than YOU have rejected my storeis," eh, Eleanor? :-)

Erik Buchanan said...

I spend six weeks hithchiking in England when I was in my 20s. The experience of having 10,000 cars drive by you in the rain is an excellent way to train yourself for accepting rejection and I highly recommend it to anyone.

Helped with the acting career, too.

This doesn't mean I don't brood over rejections, but I can always say, "at least I'm not standing outside of Cambridge in the rain."

Also, I only write novels (and occasional plays). I've never been one for short stories, so I have to face less rejection letters than a dedicated short story writer.